Is Instagram the Social Network for Your Nonprofit?

Finding the right social network for your organization is important in ensuring that your message is finding the right people. Photos can sometimes communicate more than words can which is why Instagram might be just the place for your organization.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09:  In this photo illust...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

If you are unfamiliar with Instagram, here are the basics. Instagram allows users to take photos and apply different filters on them. A photo of your friends can suddenly look like a Polaroid photo from the 70s in less than a second. These photos are then put into your feed or shared to your preferred social network for your friends to see. Friends can like or comment on your photos. One thing to keep in mind is that photos must be taken on your phone and cannot be uploaded from a computer.

Seems simple, right? That’s just it. It’s so simple that it has become one of the largest social networks around. What makes Instagram a vital player in the social network wars is the the size of their user base and how active the community is. According to their website, there are 80 million plus users, 4 billion photos uploaded, 5 million plus photos uploaded per day, 575 likes per second, and 81 comments per second. That’s a lot of photos and a lot of activity. Seems like a great place for your organization to get involved.

So you’ve created your Instagram account and now are wondering what type of things to share – don’t worry, here are some ideas.

  • Behind the scenes – people love to feel like they are being let in on secret. Show them what goes on behind the curtain.
  • Event coverage – document the party as it happens!
  • Your mission in action – show how your organization is achieving it’s goals
  • Volunteer spotlight – take a photo of your best volunteer and share it
  • Project updates – are you building a new facility? share with others how things are going.

While you can share any of the photos you take on Instagram, keeping some of them specifically on Instagram will encourage people to follow you.

Also, you can easily create a community on Instagram by getting your followers involved. Interactions on Instagram follow the same format as Twitter where as users can mention others by using @ and users can create hashtags. Say you are having a special event focused on summer. You can ask followers to post photos of what summer means to them and mention you in them or tag them with a specific hashtag.

One more thing, if you use MailChimp for your email newsletter, there is an application called Instachimp that will integrate your Instagram photos into your newsletters.

For more examples on how to best use Instagram for your organization, take a look at this article on Mashable.

I hope that you now have a better idea of how Instagram can help your organization reach out to a wider audience. Are already using Instagram? What do you find successful? Let’s talk about it in comments!

Two Things You Can Do to Make Your Photos Look Awesome

They say that a photo is worth a thousand words. When it comes to adding photos to your blog posts or posting photos to social networks, why not make your photos look the best they possibly can?

I know what you might be thinking – Marissa, I am not a professional photographer, nor do we have the budget to hire one. Well, today I’m here to show you a few things you can do to make sure you are putting your best photo foot forward.

Take Photos of Everything
I cannot stress this enough. If there is an event going on, photos need to be taken. Thanks to digital photography there is no limit as to how photos you can take so snap away. When it comes to photos, the more options you have the better. Even if you don’t use these photos to showcase this specific event, you might be able to use a photo take at that time for something else.

Don’t forget to make sure you have the permission to take photos of people you are photographing.

Also, if you don’t have someone on staff that is available to take photos, put out a call for volunteers. There might be a local up-and-coming photographer who could lend her talents to help out your organization.


A picture cropped without and with the rule of...
A picture cropped without and with the rule of thirds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After you’ve sorted through all of the photos and picked the ones you want to use chances are there is some editing that will need to happen. One of the easiest ways to take a less than awesome photo and make it a dynamic addition to your post, is to crop it. This is a feature you will find in most photo editing programs.

When cropping it is important to keep in mind the goal of your photo. What do you want the audience to focus on? Sometimes you might have a great shot of a lot of people at an event but 70% of that photo might be taken up by the ceiling in the room. By cropping out some of the ceiling the viewer’s focus is shifted to the people instead of the size of the room.

Also, you can crop images to follow one of photography’s golden rules: The Rule of Thirds. The basics are this, if the object of your photo is lined up along an imaginary tic-tac-toe grid, your photo will be visually interesting. Even if the original photo didn’t follow the Rule of Thirds, by cropping something out, you can change that.

Color Correction
There’s a lot that a person can do to change the color tone of a photo, but I won’t go in to all of the details here. I just want to focus on a quick color correction trick that can make your photos look the best they can. Many photo programs have an auto correct feature that automatically changes the saturation, contrast, brightness and exposure of your photos. This feature can become your best friend because most of the time it is one click that can save your photo. I will say that sometimes it doesn’t make your photo look its best, but in those cases you can go in and adjust each of those elements individually or just use the photo without any color correction.

Correcting the color of your photos can really make an impact. Many times it makes the photo look more realistic.

Photo Editing Programs
To crop and correct color you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on photo editing software. Most times your computer already comes with the software to do it. iPhoto on Macs is a dynamic program that organizes your photos as well and has an editing suite to help you make your photos look their best. Depending on the version of Windows you are using, Microsoft has basic photo editing tools also built in to their operating system to help you along.

If you are looking for a fully featured photo editor like Photoshop, but without the price tag, there is GIMP. GIMP is a free program with most of the features of a high powered editing program. Also, if you upload your photos to Google+, they have a pretty great editor built into the photo section of their site that is free to use as well.

Photos can make a big impact on your web content. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to make your photos look like they were shot by a pro. Just by cropping and correcting the color the photos on your site can look like a million bucks.

Do you have any photo editing tips you’d like to share? What photo program works best for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.